It’s a dog eat dog world, Sammy, and I’m wearing milk-bone underwear: An Anti-depressant Mixtape/Playlist

Blame it on the fact that I haven’t watched any Dark Shadows in months (yes, months) or the fact that I’m only up to my ideal weight if I were 11 feet tall or a complete lack of restful sleep or water retention, but all roads lead to acute depression and apathy. And while I (and you) may really just want to listen to Blue or “Waiting ‘Round to Die” on repeat, that’s not healthy behavior. (Not that I know anything about healthy behavior.) But you (and I) know that music can be a great mood alleviator, miracle aligner, what you will. So, gather ’round and have a listen to this group of songs all-but-guaranteed to pull you out of your funk. Save the marshmallows and chocolate for another day, my friend. (I know they’re the food group on the bottom of the food pyramid, but you need some balance in your life.)

1. ELO – “Mr. Blue Sky”  

Beatles influence (huh-huh-huh-huh): you’re doing it right.

Oh, to be a little Baby Groot and dance around the world without a care.

2. Crosby, Stills, & Nash – “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes” 

Opening track on your debut album: you’re doing it right.

Like, if the album ended after this song was over…I wouldn’t even be mad. I’d still snatch up every copy.

And as far as pet peeves go, number one behind all other drivers on the road would be individuals who choose to talk at any point during this song but especially the last ninety seconds or so. This is especially irksome when I have my headphones on. Like, why can’t you read my anti-social behavioral cues? Don’t interrupt my religious experience here. Oh va, oh va! Doo doo doo doo doo, doo doo doo doo doo doo/Doo doo doo doo doo, doo doo doo doo!!!!!!!!!

3. Harry Nilsson – “The Puppy Song” 

I don’t know, I just want to go outside and roll around with a dog.

And I’m not, even, like a dog person.

The power of music, man.

4. Ricky Nelson – “Raincoat in the River” 

Don’t act like you’re too cool to listen to Ricky Nelson ‘cos you MOST. DEFINITELY. ARE. NOT!! I SAID NO NO NO NO!!!!!!!!!!!!

This is a little-known gem (in my wobbly universe where I don’t have a very firm grasp on reality, anyway) hidden on the slightly forgettable Love and Kisses album. But boy oh boy, if this song does not give you the will to live, I don’t know what will. SEEK PROFESSIONAL HELP ASAP.

Oh, and remember how in my last post I talked about how you have to accept people for who they are and love them anyway? That’s what I have to remind my husband of when he finds me dancing to this song wearing my sleep mask before bedtime. Don’t forget I gave up the chance to marry Marlon Brando or Ricky Nelson in the next life to marry you! You have to love me just as I am!!

Now the rain’s been drippin’
Drip drop a drippin’
Every day you’ve been away
Now the rain is stoppin’
No more drip drip droppin’
You’re back to stay
That’s why I say… 
I’M GONNA THROW 
My raincoat in the river
GONNA TOSS 
My umbrella in the sea 
The sun’s gonna shine like never before
It ain’t gonna rain, gonna rain no more
Now my baby’s come back to me

I may or may not have a complete dance routine for this song. Ricky’s voice just moves me.

Also, I hope you deeply (DEEEEPLY) appreciate how the last photo in the above video shows Ricky’s best side. Er, I mean back side. All of Ricky’s sides are the best sides.

5. Bee Gees – “You Win Again”

“They’re back to win your hearts and your minds with their new single, ‘You Win Again.’ Ladies and gentlemen, welcome…The Bee Gees!” 

ALWAYS THE SAME.

(If you don’t understand that reference, you clearly haven’t watched In Our Own Time enough times/as many times as me. Get on task!)

Not only is this song totally awesome and life-affirming, but this whole era of Bee Gees just might feature all of my style goals in the form of Robin Gibb (who else?). Confidence personified.

Ok, I can’t watch any more Bee Gees videos tonight. It will lead me down the rabbit hole of total Bee Gees obsession, and it gets worse every time. It’s really something only a cancer survivor would understand.

OH GIRRRRRL 

Thank you for existing, Gibbs.

6. Pulp – “Disco 2000” 

I don’t know, I just think I could sing along to this song all day, every day and never, ever be sad.

Oh, what are you doin’ Sunday, baby? 
Would you like to come and meet me, maybe? 
You can even bring your baby! 
Ooh ooh oh oh ooh ooh ooh
Ooh ooh ooh ooh ooh

Remember that scene in that one episode of Life on Mars (the original, superior UK version starring John Simm) where Sam, trapped in 1973, hears a snippet of this song on the radio in the Indian restaurant? No? I guess you haven’t watched that show as much as me either. Keep up, will ya?

7. The Style Council – “My Ever Changing Moods” 

The lyrics of this song are actually quite political and powerful, but what really makes this song an automatic anti-depressant for me is the flawless, tongue-in-cheek video featuring Paul Weller and Mick Talbot in a bike race. I can’t believe there are people on this planet who find it appalling and degrading to the song. How can you not adore this video? Paul Weller’s face with his mouth full of banana at 2:35? Please God, let me live again. It’s the best thing ever.

8. Wham! – “Last Christmas” 

This is another song where the video helps make it so inspiring. But there are also people who don’t like this song or video, and I am here to tell you that those people are wrong.

(Careless Whisper) Maybe next year… 

Gets me every time.

9. Hall & Oates – “Say It Isn’t So” 

Pretty sure this is the song I listened to repeatedly on the morning of my wedding. Does that mean anything, Dr. Crane?

The only downside to listening to this song is the moment when you realize you can’t dance as well as Daryl does with his own silhouette in this video. Life goals right there. You might get really discouraged and sad. Be careful.

Also, how scary is John when he creeps up behind Daryl and points as he sings “SAY”? Really scary and really, really creepy.

10. Peter Frampton – “Show Me the Way” 

Oh my gosh, if you are one of those people who thinks they’re too cool to listen to Peter Frampton, PLEASE GO AWAY. (Uhhhh, why does the above video have 2K THUMBS DOWN? Are you just jealous of PFramp’s awesome chest? Your internet privileges are hereby REVOKED so you can get some professional HELP!!!) But if you donated your copy of Frampton Comes Alive! to a used record store, THANK YOU because I probably bought it. (Nope, I still ain’t sayin’ how many copies I own.)

I just love it when this song comes on the radio. I just have to…wonder if I’m dreaming. I feel so unashamed. I can’t believe this is happening to me!

Ahhh, heaven. This must be what it is like.

11. The Monkees – “Pleasant Valley Sunday” 

What a great pop song.

I could recommend watching The Monkeys as an anti-depressant, but I have learned to accept that it is an acquired taste for some not-so-blessed individuals.

And I may be in the minority opinion here (don’t know, don’t care), but I really think Season 1 is a better, more entertaining television show than Season 2, where Micky plugged his hair into a socket and walks around wearing a psychedelic tablecloth for most of the season. But the music? Definitely superior, and this is a great example.

12. The Beatles – “She Loves You” 

This whole playlist could be Beatles songs. The sound of my beating heart. My will to live.

But I had to pick an early, frenzied Beatlemania song because there is so much energy and joy in those early songs. People who stick their nose up at pre-Rubber Soul Beatles just might actually be worse than the demonic souls who don’t even like the Beatles. Get HELP!!!!!

13. The Beach Boys – “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” 

Any version will do, but I am personally endorsing the stereo mix found on the 30th anniversary box set. Why? Because we like you, and Brian sings the bridge, therefore resulting in minimal Mike Love.

Pure bliss.

HIDDEN TRACK: BJ Thomas – “As Long As We Got Each Other” 

Remember when CDs would have hidden tracks? That was super annoying. I’m glad it’s not a thing anymore. Not that I really know because I don’t buy that many CDs. Anyway…

I love having this song stuck in my head. Quality of life improved tenfold.

I know there are many more songs that could qualify for this playlist, but my sleep mask is calling to me…

852664894-brian_wilson_1968_laying_in_bed_with_smoke

Five Favorites I Would Induct into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

In 2006, it was announced that the Sex Pistols would be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. In response, John Lydon (aka Johnny Rotten) faxed a handwritten letter to the institution, politely declining the honor. He described the hall of fame as a “piss stain” and “urine in wine”, and he also raised some legitimate criticisms of the institution–the fact that it is a non-profit organization lacking transparency as to where exactly its funds go (you have to exit the actual museum via the gift shop, y’know), the anonymity of the nominating committee, and the vagueness of their criteria. It is a great letter, full of sneering Rotten-isms and grammatical errors, and it addresses many of the things I dislike about the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

But most of the time I don’t care about the Rock and Roll of Fame, whom it inducts and whom it snubs. Except last night the 2013 induction ceremony was on television. It was vapid and tasteless, and it reminded me of all the things I hate about the Hall of Fame–its elitism, its inconsistency, its unpredictability. Why are some genres (er, prog rock) so underrepresented? Why is a performer’s induction so dependent upon commercial success in the United States? And why oh why is Randy Newman an inductee but not the Zombies? Odessey and Oracle, hello! It’s not rocket science, people.

The value and meaning of an artist’s music isn’t found for me in recognition from a board of anonymous weenies. A band or artist is going to mean the same to me whether they’re in the Hall of Fame or not. But because I’m in a contradictory sort of mood, let’s discuss five (out of many) of my favorite artists currently eligible for induction that I think deserve a spot in the Hall of the Fame.

 5. Pulp

pulp

Eligible Since: 2008
Nominated In: Never
Essential Albums: His ‘n’ Hers (1994), Different Class (1995), This Is Hardcore (1998)

Pulp was a band that was always slightly out of step with the rest of the world. Fifteen-year-old Jarvis Cocker formed the band in 1978, they released their first record in 1983, and, after many lineup changes but with Cocker still at the forefront, they finally achieved mainstream success with 1995’s Different Class–in the UK, at least. And that, more than anything, is what is  going to bar their entrance into the Hall of Fame. Because, you see, a band has to have HUGE SUCCESS in the United States to have any credibility for the Hall of Fame. It’s ridiculous. It’s especially ridiculous in the case of Pulp because Jarvis Cocker is one of the greatest songwriters and lyricists. He writes about the mundane, the seedy, and the misfits with warmth and disgust and humor and the keenest details. There is no one in the world like him, and I was intent on marrying him all through college.

Actually, I still would.

Britpop is one of those genres and musical movements that the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is probably going to ignore as long as possible. Which is stupid as it produced some of the best music of the 1990s.

4. The Monkees

monkees

“I got a chandelier!”

Eligible Since: 1991
Nominated In: NEVER!!
Essential Albums: The Monkees (1966), More of the Monkees (1967), Headquarters (1967), Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn, & Jones Ltd. (1967). Also you have to watch both seasons of their television show because it is fun, funny, zany, and did I mention FUN? Also John Lennon watched it and loved it.

The Monkees are a tricky one. There’s still some confusion as to whether they were a real band because apparently all those albums they made without Don Kirshner playing puppet master isn’t enough proof. Yes, they were initially a manufactured band, but they went on to write and perform their own material. And even when they weren’t writing and playing ALL the instruments on those first two albums, they were still, you know, singing. Other groups used session musicians and performed the work of other songwriters. Other groups who are currently in the Hall of Fame. So, what’s the deal, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame? Oh yeah, I forgot, y’all are elitist wieners. The Monkees had some great songs, written for them and by them, and they are a unique cultural phenomenon.

3. The Smiths

the_smiths

Eligible Since: 2008
Nominated In: Never
Essential Albums: The Smiths (1984), Meat Is Murder (1985), The Queen Is Dead (1986), Strangeways, Here We Come (1987)

Johnny Marr’s guitar playing. Morrissey’s morose, biting, hilarious lyrics, sung somberly and gloomily as only Morrissey can. Does a more perfect musical marriage exist? Nope. Their influence is palpable, and the fact that all of their studio albums (and you also have to listen to the singles compilations, of course!) are essential listening speaks volumes.

But in order for Morrissey to attend the ceremony (which would be a major long shot anyway), there would probably have to be no meat within 50 miles of the venue because, you know, meat is murder, and he does not tolerate your alternate views.

2. T. Rex

t_rex

Eligible Since: 1993
Nominated In: NEVER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Essential Albums: Electric Warrior (1971), The Slider (1972). I also really love Futuristic Dragon (1976), but, y’know, it ain’t for everyone.

I had forgotten that T. Rex has never been inducted–or even nominated!–into the Hall of Fame, and I suddenly got very, very, very mad because that is absolutely ridiculous. Bolan (the man I wanted to marry before Jarvis, sigh) and T. Rex may have not had been able to sustain the same level of commercial success as their contemporary David Bowie but their influence is incredible. My suspicion is that the Hall of Fame is wary of inducting them because they are so closely linked with “glam” rock, although Bolan did experiment with other genres (soul and R&B, notably), and that’s embarrassing for some reason. Fact is, Bolan wrote some great rock ‘n’ roll songs. Some of the best. Summer is heaven in ’77! 

“I can’t cleverly theorize about Marc,” Morrissey once wrote. “I just loved him.” Me too, Mozzer. Me too.

1. The Jam 

Photo of Rick BUCKLER and JAM and Bruce FOXTON and Paul WELLER

Eligible Since: 2002
Nominated In: Never, because, once again, the nominating committee are actually shareholders in Oscar Mayer. (Translation: They’re WEENIES!!)
Essential Albums: In the City (1977), All Mod Cons (1978), Setting Sons (1979), Sound Affects (1980), The Gift (1982). I just listed all of their studio albums, save one. OOPS!!

In case I haven’t made it clear here before…I worship Paul Weller. I mean, I really have it bad for this guy. I think he is the world’s most wonderful human being and a stunning lyricist and songwriter with unquenchable passion for and belief in what he does. And wham bam, long live The Jam! I would induct Weller into the Hall of Fame in all of his incarnations–with The Jam, The Style Council, and as a solo artist, but The Jam probably holds the most value as far as influence and a solid, cohesive body of work. It still blows my mind that the group produced six albums in five years, with so many great songs, and they broke up at their commercial and critical peak. What guts 24-year-old Paul Weller had! Love that guy. But The Jam never really achieved any kind of success in the United States, which is commonly explained by their being “too British.” (And the Kinks were…?) Yes, because the stream of images painted in “That’s Entertainment” are only relatable and vivid if you are British: “Two lovers kissing amongst the scream of midnight/Two lovers missing the tranquillity of solitude/Getting a cab and travelling on buses/Reading the graffiti about slashed seat affairs/I say that’s entertainment, that’s entertainment.”

Name me a songwriter in the hall of fame who can write lyrics like THAT. I can probably count ’em on one hand.

The Chaperone: My Favorite Episode of The Monkees

I love The Monkees. Monkees Monday on Nick-at-Nite was the center of my universe as a young child (and I roamed the earth like a zombie for years afterward once it was no more). Programming the VCR to record a single episode of The Monkees at 3 A.M. gave me the will to live as a young adolescent. Staying up until 2 A.M. marathoning episodes of the show during finals week at Ohio University was my modus operandi. (OK, so I should qualify that was somewhat involuntary, since college students are exceptionally loud and idiotic creatures. Especially during finals week. Especially at Ohio University.)

I’ve seen and loved all 58 episodes countless times (I raise my hands in supplication to the invention of DVDs), but I will always only ever have one favorite episode of The Monkees: the ninth installment of the first season, “The Chaperone.”

The Monkees, The Chaperone

“She’s divine, lovely, beautiful, devoon, marvelous.” Uh oh. Davy’s in love. As usual. 

“The Chaperone” features The Monkees‘ single most-used plotline: Davy falls in love with a girl. A blonde girl. A blonde girl with no personality. Not that he would know that because he’s never actually said more than three words to this girl and he’s not that bright anyway.

This particular vacuous blonde girl, though, has an exceptionally strict father, a former Military General who only allows her to attend chaperoned parties. So what do The Monkees do?

General Dolenz

“What do you mean you don’t remember? Everyone remembers The Battle of the Bulge. Oh! It’s me you don’t remember.” 

Micky, alias Colonel Dolenz, phones the girl’s father, General Vandenberg, and informs him that his son, Micky, and his friends are throwing a chaperoned party and would his daughter, Leslie, like to come? Of course she would. So the Monkees have got to get their place decorated for party! This leads to one of my all-time favorite Monkees “romps.” (“Romps” are the hip word used to describe the music sequences of the show. They’re pretty much music videos. Only way more fun.)

Some of my favorite things that happen during this romp:

Mike trying to open the pretzels

Mike trying to open the pretzels. Yeah, so Mike Nesmith is totally my favorite Monkee. I know, I know. I KNOW. I’m pretty sure 90% of this blog’s readers are my family members, and I’m pretty sure all of them hate Mike. Every time the conversation of favorite Monkees comes up everyone gags when I say Mike. I’m never going to live it down. But that’s okay because I don’t really want to. Mike Nesmith always has been and always will be my favorite Monkee. I mean, let’s look at the competition: The New and Improved Stephen Stills, Circus Boy, or A Short, Annoying British Guy Who Will Grow Moobs faster than you can say…well, you’ve already said it. That’s how fast Davy Jones grows moobs. It’s nasty. So of course I’m gonna pick the Texan Twig with the Wool Hat. Of course I am. That ONE TIME my family did a road trip across the entire country, we stopped in Texas and went to the Alamo and I was all, “Why are we here? Where’s Mike’s house?” Anyway. Mike trying to open the pretzels is literally the cutest thing in the world.

Orange Juice?

Peter making orange juice or something. Who knows? Not Peter. Because Peter’s the dumb one.

Mike, Micky, and the Cake

Micky spiraling down the staircase straight into that nasty cake Mike just finished frosting. This is seriously one of my favorite things in the world. It’s my favorite part about the opening credits of the show’s first season. (The fact that they removed it from the second season’s opening was a bad omen. Season two is definitely inferior because of this, Micky wearing tablecloths, and the storylines making less and less sense and therefore becoming less and less funny. Unless you were smoking pot. Which everyone probably was.) I still laugh every time. You can ask my sister because she always gets annoyed and says, “Why do you always laugh? It’s not that funny.” Uh, yeah, it is. It totally is.

Peter blowing up a balloon

Peter blowing up a balloon. Self-explanatory, I think.

Once the place is decorated, the real fun begins. The boys need to find a chaperone. They first try to coax their bloodsuckin’ landlord, but he insists he’ll charge them by the hour for the service. Then their feather-brained drunken cleaning lady falls into the role. Then she (literally) passes out of the role and it then goes to…

Micky as The Chaperone

Mrs. Arcadian aka Micky. Micky makes such a pretty lady. General Vandenberg is, of course, smitten. He even gets up to dance amidst the party’s illustrious guests, which include Mr. Clean and Tarzan. Micky just can’t take it anymore, though, and laments to Mike because Mike is always a supportive friend, a good listener with sound advice. What’s the problem, he asks. “He’s getting fresh,” Micky tells him. Mike reminds him that he is doing it for a friend in need who happens to be in love with General Vandenberg’s daughter.

“Yeah,” retorts Micky. “And I’m going to be his mother-in-law.”

“If you play your cards right,” qualifies Mike.

General Vandenberg does end up proposing marriage to Micky, after the boys’ landlord arrives, also becoming infatuated with Mrs. Arcadian, and after he overhears Davy blowing Micky’s cover to Leslie.

The Honeymoon in Venice

Micky is initially repulsed by the idea and tries to reason his way out of it. But once General Vandenberg promises a Honeymoon in Venice, Micky is sold. No one, not even Mike, can get him to reveal the truth to General Vandenberg.

Cover blown

But it’s no big deal because General Vandenberg already knows. “There is no excuse for this kind of deceit!” he roars. Oh, but there is, his daughter tells him, explaining that all she wanted was a date with Davy. You should have just asked me because, he says, he is not an unreasonable man. A resolution is reached. It’s a touching moment of understanding between father and daughter. As Mike declares, “All’s well that ends well.”

Do I gotta give back the ring?

One thing is troubling Micky, though: does he gotta give back the ring? (“Return the ring,” advises Morrissey.)

The tag scene then finds Davy and Leslie on a chaperone-free date:

Davy, Leslie, and the new Chaperone

It’s okay, Davy. You’ll get over her by next week’s episode because you go through more girls than Brandon Walsh.

The Monkees will always be one of my favorite television shows for so many of the reasons illustrated in this episode–the ridiculousness, the humor, and, of course, the music. I remember being outraged the first time I discovered the Monkees were accused of not being a “real band.” Of course they were a real band! My dad owns all their records! Ah, youth. This is the part where Micky uses his line that the Monkees did become a real band just like Leonard Nimoy became a real Vulkan.

Real, fake, human, Vulkan, I really love The Monkees.